Mike Krahulik

January 30, 2013

I am Mike Krahulik, I draw Penny Arcade

I created the Penny Arcade comic strip with my friend Jerry Holkins back in 1998. I’ve been making comics about video games and geek culture for almost 15 years now. In 2003 we created Child’s Play, a charity designed to get toys and games to kids in Children’s Hospitals all over the world. In 2004 we created the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) a convention for games and gamers of all kinds. Currently we’re getting ready to launch Strip Search our reality show to find the next great Webcartoonist. Ask me anything about webcomics, video games, Penny Arcade, PAX, Child’s Play, PATV, or drawing comics.

Here is my verification on Penny Arcade http://www.penny-arcade.com/

Heads up I am gonna stop answering questions at 4:30 PST All Done, thanks so much everyone this was awesome!

What was the racist joke that Erika told you guys during her interview?

I can never repeat that joke. Everyone who heard it is bound by a blood oath to keep it secret.

What comic do you regret ever making?

I can’t think of a single comic I regret making. There are some that Don’t think are as funny as others but I would not put a comic online if I didn’t like it.

At PAX East last year, at my friend's request, Jerry promised there would be a final Downloadable Content podcast.

The promised time came and went, but no podcast was aired. Then, its full revival was a flexgoal on the Kickstarter, taunting me with its lofty price which was never reached.

Will the podcast ever be revived, even if for a eulogic edition?

One thing we learned from the Kickstarter was to break out some of those stretch goals into their own Kickstarters. That’s something we will probably do with the DLC podcast.

I have two questions

1.) Which Pokemon is you and your sons favorite?

2.) Which 6th Gen starter will you pick?

Thanks and have a great day :D

Chimchar is my Favorite!

Will there ever be a PATV episode about the whole Ocean Marketing situation?

No that was a year ago. I guess we could do one of those black and white reenactments.

What has been the biggest change as an artist for you, from 1998 to present?

I’d say I’m better now than I was and that just comes with practice. I have learned more about the art of cartooning and I’ve tried to push myself in a lot of new directions over the years.

do a lot of people recognize you on the street?

It happens but not often. When people do recognize me they are always very cool.

Watching PA: The Series it often seems like things at the office are always fun, and if they are stressful at least it's still a friendly, supportive environment. Are there times when work feels like "work" (i.e. tedious, stressful, unfulfilling)?

There are days when it feels like "work" sure. On those days I remind myself that my job is to play video games and draw comics. Even on the worst day it's the best job I could ever have.

Dear Mike,

Thank you for doing this AMA. I've been reading Penny Arcade for years and consistently get laughs out of it. I don't play video games much anymore since I lost the use of my left hand after a stroke, but I can still relate to your humor. I've got a few questions I'd like to ask:

  1. What's it like waking up every day and doing something you love?
  2. What do you tell your son that you do for a living?
  3. Does Jerry really have a thing for giraffes?
  1. It's the best feeling in the world. I have had some shitty jobs in my life and I'm super thankful for PA. 2.My son knows that I am a cartoonist but he is not allowed to read Penny Arcade. 3.I hope not

I just want to say thank you for your humor and dedication over the years. Twisp and Catsby for the win.

My question is with the art style you've developed over the years, one could say the current Gabe and Tycho are not the same Gabe and Tycho that existed when the series was first started. Have you considered drawing a comic where the two sets meet and interact with each other?

I have drawn a few strips recently that had the old style of characters. It was REALLY hard to draw. I kept trying to "fix" the old designs as I drew them.

Mike, thanks for doing this AMA! How have you enjoyed doing PA TV? Do you find that you try and ham things up for the camera to be more funny or more absurd than usual, or are you guys that animated all the time? How much would you say your comfort with being in front of the camera crew has changed since the pilot?

Also, when can we expect the next season?

I can tell you that Jerry and I don't act any differently for the cameras. In fact we forget they are there during the 4th panel episodes.


I think it was silly. Ben is passionate about games journalism and he is outspoken. I like that about him.

Your attempts to respond to the 'Is PA being ghostdrawn' ( http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/10/03 ) were painfully obvious and just made it worse. Are you going to start giving credit to the ghost-artists who do the majority of the day-to-day work of your comic or will they continue to be NDA-d employees?


If someone else is drawing Penny Arcade I am not aware of it. I will look into this.

the only thing I really want to know is: Can you tell us anything more about Strip Search? Do we know yet when it's going to start airing? :D

I am SO EXCITED about it!


Strip Search should start airing in late Feb. I can't tell you much about it because I don't want to spoil it. I can tell you that if you like reality TV and you like webcomics you will love this show.

Has becoming a father changed how you approach your job and being a public figure?

yes! it used to be that I worked pretty strange hours. Now that I am a dad I try and work a 9-5 schedule. When I go home at night work is over and I am a Dad. I feel like it's really important to make that distinction.


my favorite strip is the Megaman Effect. The one where G&T play games and turn into little kids. I think it's just a perfect comic.

I think The Fruit Fucker is my fav side character.


Yeah I do. That was a mistake but it was the sort of mistake we learn from.

I really loved Automata. Any chance we'll see more stories in that universe in the near future?

Yes this year you will see a new Automata comic from Tycho and I. It was one of the stretch goals from our KS.

Hi Mike! Love watching your drawing style evolve over the years. To that end, I'm curious to know what art media (pencils, Sharpies, tablet, etc.) do you most enjoy using when you sketch?

Right now I work almost 100% digital. From sketch to final it's all done in PS. I like to paint with acrylics when I have the time and for the Zelda project I learned some water color techniques.

Hey Mike! Huge fan (along with just abut everybody else here, I'm sure)! Just a couple quick ones:

1) What made you decide to do an AMA? (Not that I'm complaining)

2) Do you guys still play DnD, aside from at PAX? Acquisitions Inc. is directly responsible for getting me into DnD, which I quickly got my friends into, and it's an awesome thing we all still do together.

3) Speaking of PAX, anything special to be looking forward to at PAX Prime this year? It is my favorite weekend out of the entire year, so I want to thank you guys so much for making it real.

  1. I really like talking to people and answering questions at PAX. The Q&A panels are probably my favorite part of the show. This seemed like a great way to get the same feeling without being at the show. 2.I have not played D&D in months. Recently I was working on my own card game Thornwatch and that took over our regular D&D nights. 3.I'm very excite for our new Pinny Arcade pin trading project to launch at PAX. I'd say that is what I am most looking forward to.

How awesome is Ni no Kuni?

It is the best. I think it takes the spot of my favorite game of all time away from Kingdom Hearts 2.

A long while ago, you gave some tips about drawing with a Wacom. Do you have any more recent tips in regards to drawing on a digital canvas? I know, for example, drawing smooth, good-looking pressure-sensitive lines can be challenging for some, and if I recall correctly your method of doing so is to zoom in substantially and work from there.

The most important thing for smooth lines is to zoom WAY in. Have a solid sketch and trust it. That's how I do it.

Where did Cardboard Tube Samurai go?

we know it has been a while since we did a CTS strip and we will try and fix that this year.

If you could only play one videogame and one tabletop game for the rest of your life, which do you pick, and why?

Videogame- Minecraft- because I can dig and build forever. Tabletop- D&D - That would always be new

How are you feeling about the whole jj abrams star wars stuff?

I am optimistic. I actually really liked the Star Trek re-boot.

Do you ever struggle with your success or feel like it pigeonholes you as an artist?

No. PA has allowed me to work on so many different projects. I've drawn everything from Zelda to Splinter Cell and I love it.

what's it like being rape apologist human garbage

It keeps me busy.

If for some terrible, magical reason you lost your ability to create drawn art, what would you want to do instead?

play golf

As far as I can tell, Robert is the third pillar that made Penny Arcade possible. You and Jerry have great talent in presenting comics, and posts people want to read, and Robert makes it possible for you to focus on those things.

If you and Jerry were starting over again (young, single, unknown) how would you find a "Robert"?

(I know he originally found you, asking because I know there are lots of creative types out there who desperately need someone like him to cross over from "barely getting by" to "viable business")

[edited for clarity]

people ask us this all the time. "how can I get a Robert?" and I honestly don't know. We are very lucky that Robert found us. I don't like to think about where we would be if he hadn't.

What metrics do you use when a company approaches you to do a comic about their Computer game?

  1. Do I like the game 2.Do I have the time to draw it 3.Will they let us put our own spin on it.

What was the biggest fight you've ever had with Jerry? What was it about? How was it resolved?

We actually had a fight last year that was filmed but we didn't end up using the footage. I was being a jerk to Jerry in what I thought was a funny way but it really was just me being a jerk. He got pissed at me and stormed out. It happens. It was resolved when he came back in a few minutes later and we finished writing the comic. This sort of thing happens in creative relationships. It's not common for us but it does happen.

Have you ever spotted Tychpos before you published the comic, and left them in so Jerry has to pay for it (to charity, right?).

See you at PAX East :D.

yes I have.

What is the plan for Penny Arcade if something happens to you? To Jerry? Do you envision it continuing when you've retired or passed on?

If I die the strip becomes a memorial for me. If Jerry dies we get a team of writers to fill in.

Where do you see Penny Arcade going in the next few decades? Do you see it some day continuing as its own entity, separate from you and Jerry, or do you see a definitive end point?

Jerry and I still love making PA. At some point many many years from now though I can see us wanting to do something else. It is my dream to someday pass the comic on to another artist/writer duo.

Parenting question. I've read some recent posts and tweets from you about your oldest son and his gaming habits. As a Dad, do you put any restrictions on screen time?

My two boys are just a little younger than yours and even though I can spend hours playing games on the PC, I do try to limit how much TV/gaming the kids can do.

We have no hard rules about screen time. For me it is about content not time. If he is playing Minecraft and building working circuits with redstone, well shit he can do that all day. If he is watching My Little Pony then I might cut him off after an hour.

Hi Mike, big fan of the comic!

Of all the various projects you have going on in the coming year, which one do you look forward to the most?

Strip search and Pinny Arcade are the two things I am most excited for in 2013.

Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring artists and cartoonists? Or, perhaps more interestingly worded, if you could give your past self some artistic advice, what would it be?

the best advice I can give is draw every day. Get a sketchbook and draw something in it every single fucking day. I wish I had done that when I was younger.

how do you feel about possibly making more videogames based around your characters?

this is coming from someone who has all 3 rain-slick games, and wants more.

I am not a fan of making video games. I worked on episode 1 and 2 and I hated the experience. From my point of view I worked super hard producing concept art for years that in the end no one ever got to see. Sure other artists took my work and converted it into a game but I don't actually like that. If I draw a comic it goes up the next day and you can all see it. If you like it great. If you don't like it well maybe you will like the one tomorrow.

Jerry on the other hand loves writing games and that is why he has been doing episodes 3 and 4.

Are there any plans to make an mobile Penny Arcade app? If so, when could we expect to see it? If not, why?

An app no but a site yes. This year.

Is it just a coincidence that once you had kids your comic stopped being funny?

probably not.

What's your take on the Bill Day editorial cartoon scandal? I mean you posted a one line zinger on thedailycartoonist but a more forthcoming response would be interesting.

oh I don't actually care. I think 99% of political cartoons are trash.

I've wanted a job like yours for years, and I've been making lots of stuff for years. I've learned a lot, but you know more. Are there "pearls of wisdom" that you can share?

I asked this as a reply to one of your answers, but I'm paranoid about you not seeing it. Sorry about repeating myself.

Be too stupid to quit. It worked for me. There are so many times I should have given up and just accepted the fact that I was never going to do anything but sell computers for a living.

Hopefully i'm not late for the AMA, but i've been a fan of PA since last year, i've been reading your comics and attending to Penny Arcade Expo since Prime last year (Not much, i know, but i'll be going to East this year and hopefully others in later years!)

So, my question may have been answered already, but:

What inspired you to make the Penny Arcade Expo (also known as "Pax") and how you knew they were going to be so awesome?

we were inspired to make PAX after visiting conventions all over the country and not seeing anything like PAX. We had been to comic book conventions that had some video games and we had been to tabletop conventions that had some video games. But we had not seen anything like PAX. The closest thing was E3 and that wasn't really for the gaming community it was for the press.

Aside from your own, whose comic/drawing/artistic style are you most impressed with/envious of?

I am a huge fan of Kate Beaton's work. I think she is super funny and I wish I could draw girls as well as she does. I like PvP and I think Scott is an incredible cartoonist. I also like Kazu and what he has done with Bolt City.

Would you break down your typical work week for us? Rough percentages would be cool.

4th panel and your watch-me-draw videos makes it look like you spend about 2~3 hours on a comic:

So that's about 9 hours out of 40 -> about 22% of your time.

How do you allocate the other 78%?

I know you do bonus comics and stuff for games. You prepare for PAX and whatnot.... but that hardly seems part of a "typical" week for you.

When nothing unusual happens, how do you spend your work days?

[edit: removed question about daily working hours since he answered 9-5 elsewhere]

[edit: math]

On a comic day (that is a day I have to DRAW a comic, tuesday, Thursday and Friday.) I get into the office around 9:30. I look at game news and surf the web for ideas until 10:30. Then Jerry and I get together and write the strip. This is what you see in the 4th panel episodes. then I draw the strip. This takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on the comic. I might spend the rest of that day working on a news post, or drawing one of our side projects like PA presents.

on the other days (Monday and Wednesday) I work on merchandise, PA presents, or any other work for hire stuff that is on my schedule. These are also my days to play games here in the office. I might spend all day drawing a poster from a game company or playing Ni No Kuni. It all depends on my schedule.

Your kid likes to draw? do you see yourself teaching him in the future? (technique maybe?)

He does like to draw but I don't want to push it on him. I have gone to his school multiple times and taught classes on drawing cartoons to his class and others.

Where you able to find a home for your cats? :(

no not yet.

How is your relationship with your inspirations like Stephen Silver now that you're a professional artist yourself?

I am very fortunate to have a great relationship with Stephen. He was my biggest influence as a young artist and today I'm proud to say we are friends. I'm not sure that happens to many people.

Any chance for a Gabe plushy on the store?

no Gabe but Twistp and Catsby yes.

What was the most frustrating experience with a fan you have had? What is the most positive memorable experience?

I've had some really amazing interactions with fans over the years. There is no shortage of me crying on stage at PAX while a fan relates their story to us. I hugged a guy who was standing on artificial legs for the first time. I am always always amazed and humbled by the effect PA has on some people.

What got you interested in webcomics?

There was no such thing as webcomics when we started. I loved comics and putting them on the web seemed like a good idea.

Is the 4th issue of the Lookouts comic out? Where can I buy it if it's not on comixology?

I have seen it. I know it is done. It should be out soon.

Is there a day of the week you typically find hardest to get work done? Why?

it used to be Monday's. That was because Monday night used to be my D&D night so I would spend all day thinking about and working on my game for that evening. Don't tell Robert.

Hi Mike, I've been reading Penny-arcade since 2000. I really love your art work (I was so pleased when you started making paintings) and I think it's at it's best in non-PA projects, like Automata. I work in a customer service place, where I proudly wear my Automata No Heart, No Soul, No Service t-shirt. I'm considering getting a Carl tattoo. Can you draw him for me wearing a fancy Dick Tracy Style suit?

I have never drawn anyone's tattoo and I probably never will. Even people close to me who have asked I say no. I love tattoos, I have a ton of them myself but I would never want my art on someone forever. I don't even draw my own stuff.

Hey Mike! I'm the guy in the wheelchair with the two prosthetic legs that stood up at PAX East to give you a hug (and gave one leg to Jerry to hold up in front of the crowd, Lion King-style). Within the next year, I'll be heading out to California to have a set of custom covers made for my prosthetics. Rather than making them look like "legs," I've decided (like a lot of Geek amputees) to go with something a little geekier. My coverings will, ideally, make my legs resemble Iron Man armor.

The problem is, I need a leg model. Normally, in cases of single amputees, the company that makes these just scan your good leg to get a general size/shape guideline for the fairing (the covering). Of course, since I'm a double, that's not an option. Basically, I need someone roughly my height to stand in and have their legs scanned to build up a rough shape outline for my fairings.

My question is...how big of a donation to Child's Play would I have to raise to get you (or Jerry, or Khoo) to make a trip down to California when the time comes and be my "leg model?" ...oh, and apologies if this is...weird. I have trouble judging that, any more.

You do not need to donate anything! Just email Robert and we will work it out. My legs are ready to be scanned!

Can you respond to this question?


Well, I asked Robert and might as well ask you, too. How many hours of sleep do you average during any given PAX?

I do much better than Robert. I get about 5 to 6 probably.

Gabe, what do you say to those critics who claim that Penny Arcade is just a pale imitation of the Bewitched TV series?

I say bullshit. It is an incredible imitation of the Bewitched TV series!

Does it bother you that you lost the respect of some of your fans after running a kickstarter to remove ads from your front page?

not really no. I mean I've been doing this for almost 15 years. You can't please everyone all the time. If I got stressed out every time someone sent me an angry mail after a comic strip or some other thing they didn't like I'd go insane!

Will we ever get Ping Pong tables at PAX?

no. We do not want people sweating at PAX.

Will we ever get Ping Pong tables at PAX?

no. We do not want people sweating at PAX.

Very long-time fan, thanks for everything.

After the dickwolves fiasco do you get gun-shy about similar things? I was honestly expecting some blow-back from the "girls gone fae-wild" shirt

to be honest yes we did. I'd say for quite a while we were really paranoid about making the strip. We kept writing jokes and then saying "will someone find this offensive?" or "Could you interpret this some other way?" it really sucked. I think we got over it though. We are going to offend people. We are going to piss them off. We can't second guess ourselves all the time it's just not conducive to making comics.

What's your favorite webcomic?

Penny Arcade

Hi Mike/Gabe! In the strip "Perhaps Too Real", yourself and Jerry appeared in the comic for—I believe—the first time. Of course, the joke was to greatly exaggerate any and all flaws in your respective faces, but what I want to know is:

Was it hard to deliberately make yourselves seem unappealing (maybe even deliberately drawing attention to things you could have been insecure about)? Or was it fun, knowing that the more flawed you made yourselves appear, the funnier the comic would be?

No that's pretty much how I think we look. We don't have a great self image.

Hey Mike,

A while back, you guys all got really into Warmachine. Do you still dig out the Protectorate and Legion, or has that died down at the office?

I have not played in months but I was playing Hordes Legion of Everblight. There is talk of a new league starting up here in the office so I might be getting back in.

You and Jerry seem to have very different politics. Does that ever become an issue in terms of deciding what jokes to do? Like, does he ever try to pull you back from certain topics or something?

(PS: Going to my second PAX East this year! Thanks so much for all the fun times!)

I'm not sure we really have different politics. We agree on most political stuff actually. We disagree a bit on religion but that has never really effected the comic strip. When it comes to politics in the comic we usually try and avoid it. We are both pretty liberal guys I think and I figure most people can guess that by reading PA. I've never felt like putting overt political stuff in the comic was a good idea though.

Whatever happened to Lexxy who was on Season One of PATV? Will she ever be back?

She is actually one of the contestants on Strip Search!

Where did you think you might be, when you and Jerry started this whole Penny Arcade adventure, at this point in your life?

I have a hard time articulating how impressed I am with you guys. I can't really imagine a world where I can't go and see your guys's thoughts on the current happenings in the video game community. Then you went on to establish Child's Play, which is just a fantastic turn of events that I never thought would get so big. Then, just to fucking top it all off, you guys went and made 3 games. Oh whats that? Not enough? How about some PAX FOR YA?! I might sound like I am gushing but I feel like I've been there for every step of development, and it is so cool that it makes me excited for you. Thanks for all you have done, and some day I'll save up and make it out to PAX. I'm giddy just thinking about it!

it's funny Jerry and I never really thought ahead. In fact one of the first things Robert asked when he met us was "what is your five year plan?" we didn't even have a 1 year plan!

Internet feminists do hate you. How have you been dealing with this?

I'm staying strong don't worry about me.

Hey Mike, thanks for putting the time in to do this AMA.

Can't tell you how pumped I am for PAX Australia, it seems too good to be true. Will you and Jerry be popping across the Pacific to say g'day to the Australian readership?

Of course! Jerry and I are flying down for PAX Australia and then we are both staying after for a couple weeks to see the sights. I can't wait!

Huge fan here! :-) I've been a devout reader since the first few months.

Whatever happened to The Bench? Is there a backup somewhere?

as far as I know the bench was lost and there is no backup. It's sad but true.

Hi Mike, welcome to reddit!

I've been a fan of Penny Arcade since early 2000, and have loved watching it grow. I still reread old comics from time to time, and the transition in art is astounding. More than that, I've had the chance to see you grow as a person. From a gamer with a tendency to draw to an awesome father.

I don't have any single question for you to answer, because after reading the news posts/tweets/articles for so long, there's really not a lot left to know. It feels weird to realize that I know so much about a webcomic, but I'll accept that.

I don't normally comment on IAmAs, for fear of being lost in the crowd, yet today I feel the need to thank you. Thanks for keeping me entertained for so many years. Thanks for sticking up for gamers when we need you. Thanks for getting Paul fired. Thanks for PAX, and thanks for Child's Play.

Have a nice day, my good sir.

That's incredibly nice, thank you very much.

PA has always done a good job of remaining objective and honest, freely expressing your opinions. Has this been difficult to maintain? Would you say it has gotten better/worse as PA has become more influential?

As the company has grown there have been more challenges yes. Crapping all over a game or a publisher or pissing off someone in the industry used to be easy when it was just Jerry and I. Now I have to think. "will this damage any of the business relationships Robert has? Will this hurt Jamie and Kristin in their efforts to raise money for Child's Play? Will this make the job of any of the 13 people who work here harder? Then I do it anyway but it's very hard for a couple seconds.

My friends and I pooled our money together at the Child's Play Charity Dinner Auction to win the Thornwatch play-test. I know you're a busy dude but do you think we might do that in the near future? :)

Has no one contacted you!? Shit man I'm sorry. Send me an email and we'll play ASAP.

What was your main motivation to brought you to where you are? I mean, what led to the rise of Mike Krahulik?

Drawing was what I loved and the only thing i was really good at. I was determined to make it my life.

Have you ever thought about doing a comic or cartoon geared specifically towards kids?

yes! I would love to draw children's books actually.

How do you feel about mocking kickstarter projects for their frivolous things, and then start one yourself asking for money to remove ads from your webpage?

I feel pretty good actually.

If I recall correctly, you believe in a god, and Jerry does not. Does that ever cause friction between the two of you? Have you two ever discussed it, or do you generally just leave the subject alone?

you're right and generally we just leave the subject alone. We both know how the other feels and it's just not something we talk about.

Why are you so piglike in appearance?

Just lucky I guess.

When are you coming back to St. Louis? It was a real treat to meet you guys. My lovely and classy wife was the one who grabbed her boob to try to get you guys to laugh :)

Also, PAX Midwest. Please...

you hang on to that lady she is a winner.

Would you ever be willing to go back on Jordan Jesse Go? I enjoy both you guys and it seems weird how badly it went.

it was very weird yes! I'm not sure going back would be a good idea.

Hi Mike,

I was a fan of yours when you and Jerry started out, but I've become increasingly disappointed in your responses to numerous controversies. I'm talking primarily about the Dickwolves mess and your support for Tentacle Bento.

It is developing into a pattern where you say something, perhaps unintentionally offensive, and instead of apologizing or being willing to have a serious discussion with people who are upset or hurt about it, you grow defensive and block those who criticize you.

I know that you were bullied when you were younger, so my question for you is this: How is what you and certain segments of your fanbase do different than bullying? Why would you rather double-down on your arguments in confrontations rather than being willing to have a genuine dialogue?

Thank you for your time.

I think the problem was in the response. We will always make offensive material but I've learned that responding to people who are upset either honestly or sarcastically only makes things worse. Best to just make the comics and let people feel how they want to about them.

We met once at PAX 2007, you were walking back to your hotel on a Saturday night. I said thanks for the advice on anti-anxiety meds. I'm off them now, just wanted to let you know.

Since this is ask me anything, I'm going to give you a tough one: whatever happened to painting? Ain't heard about it in a while, man.

Glad to hear you're doing well man! I'm actually still on Lexpro and too nervous to try dropping it:)

I want to paint more but finding the time is hard. I still have all the stuff set up in my house I just need to sit down and do it.

Hey Gab...err Mike. I've always just thought of you guys as Gabe and Tycho... Anyways, what has been the biggest change in the comic since you started making it? Obviously your artistic style has changed over the years, but what about how you and Tycho go about making the strips?

Well it's much more structured now. We have specific times that we work on the comic and that was not always the case. It used to be that we both worked crazy hours at our real jobs and would get together anytime we could to make PA. this usually ended up being in the middle of the night.

With comics that are more cerebral ("I Hope You Like Text"), how much input is generally yours versus Jerry's?

Also, is he a massive pervert hiding in plain sight?

I'd say on those text heavy comics Tycho has most of the input. The ones with no text or very little tend to come more from me.

If you had unlimited funds, a possible license of your choice and the best developers in the world at your disposal, what video game would you love to make?

I've always wanted to make a Superman RPG myself, yet i am poor and have no clue how to develop a picture, let alone a video game.

A Pokemon MMO!

What is your out of work friend dynamic like?

I hear penn and teller were roommates and such but have grown away from actual friendship friendship to coworker status

The mythbusters guys are just coworkers

Are you actual friends still

That's funny I never knew that. You know Tycho and I rarely see each other outside the office. We have essentially recreated our old apartment here in the office though. So we spend all day together playing games, and making comics and then go home to our families.

Thank you for the years of enjoyment I've gotten from your strip. Penny Arcade is always funny and mostly intelligent. I would guess you've heard this many times before, but I'd love to see a PAX Midwest. I never seem to have the ability to travel and attend one of the "costal" events. Maybe next time.

My question is related to your art style. I've really enjoyed seeing your art develop over the years. It's one of the best examples of practice makes perfect on the web. What's with the exaggerated front teeth on your current style? It doesn't look terrible, but I keep expecting the boys (especially Gabe) to turn into chipmunk or something to that effect. Is a chipmunk in a pacman shirt Gabe's final form?

Thanks again for the years of free entertainment and the awesome shirts you guys put out.

You noticed the teeth! It's funny I've been slowly growing Gabe's teeth for a while now and I really like it. I guess it matches my own jacked up mouth but I also think it makes him look goofy and I love it.

  1. Does having a camera and microphone pointed at you all day ever feel strange or invasive?
  2. Has PA ever considered having any involvement in esports?
  3. When you golf, do you have a hook or a slice?
  1. You get used to it. I really don't notice them anymore. 2.No it's just not something we are really into.
  2. I play a wicked slice off the drive but my irons are pretty dead on.

What do you find is the most challenging thing to illustrate? Whether it be a certain pose, a body part, an object, an emotion to convey or something else entirely.

girls! I have the hardest time drawing girls.

If you had a time machine, and you were to tell your younger self that he would spend many years of his adult life discussing, debating, apologizing for and answering constant questions about "dick wolves", what would your younger self say?

If I could go back I probably wouldn't. things have worked out so fucking good for me it's ridiculous. I could not ask for a better life and if that means my younger years had to be a shit show then I don't want to change a thing.

I love the Rain-Slick games. How much involvement did you have with them?

in the first two I did all the concept art. in 3 and 4 none.

I Enforce at PAX East and I just wanted to mention that I love you guys for sustaining a gamer culture outside of the "neck beard basement dwelling" stereotype and for giving me the oppurtunity to be a part of something so fantastic as PAX.

As for my question: Out of everything you've ever created (either by yourself or with Jerry) what is the one you're most proud of? I mean creatively of course because I know you'd definately say Child's Play.

(Also TableTop Enforcer for life! Suck it expo hall and line management! :P)

I'd say the Lookouts. I think after PA it's the best thing we've made and I think it has a ton of potential.

What's the most appropriate thing to do at PAX when we see you, want to get a picture/signature from you, but don't want to get beaten with a cardboard tube?

I am down for whatever at PAX. If you want some shit signed or you need a hug or whatever I'll make it fucking happen.

I have Mark Kistler's book that you worked on. What was he like? I loved the show when I was a kid.

He was a cool guy. He gave me my first real paying job as an artist and I was still in high school. It was strange to find out that he smoked cigarettes but I'm sure even Mr. Rogers had his vices.



Are you a frequent user of reddit?

reader yes but I don't post.

do you still hang out with batjew?

yes he was in my D&D game. I see him all the time.

How do you pronounce your last name? I've wanted to know for the better part of the decade.


In the drugs episode of PATV, you seemed very confident that you wouldn't use drugs recreationally, so I was surprised to see that you had done recently. Do you know what it was that changed your mind and was the experience as you'd expected it?

This is a fair question. My brother overdosed when I was still in high school. Watching him and his struggles had a big effect on me. I was scared to death of all drugs not just the illegal ones. I tried not to take aspirin or even vitamins. I didn't drink or use anything I thought might be addictive.

When pot became legal in Washington I decided it was time to try it. Jerry got me some for Christmas and under the supervision of some of my closest friends I gave it a try. The decision to do so was hard for me but I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn't scared of it. It was a big moment for me and honestly after trying it I feel pretty silly for fearing it as long as I did.

What ever happened to 16-bit childhood?

that was going to be an art show of paintings based on my childhood growing up with 16 bit games. I never got around to doing it.

I'm sorry man, I like Tycho better.

So do I.

Hey, Mike! I'm a long time fan and have been reading your comic for over 10 years now. Just last year I was able to attend PAX for the first time, something I've wanted to do since it first started, and it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life.

There is something I've always wanted to ask you: why did you guys cave over that Strawberry Shortcake comic? You two have always been awesome about standing up for yourselves (i.e. dickwolves and the Christoforo incident), but this kind of stands out as the one time you didn't. I assume that it was for financial reasons, that it didn't really make sense to fight something that could cost you a lot in legal fees and bring little benefit even if you won, and I don't blame you for that. I guess my question is if the same thing happened today, would you do anything different?

we got legal advice and we were told we had no chance to win that fight.

Do you ever personally give toys or games to the kids through Child's Play? If so, was there a particular reaction that will always stick with you?

Early on we had imagined we would be able to go in and give the kids the toys. It turns out that you are not allowed in there! These kids are in bad shape and they don't let strangers just march in and mess with them.

i wish you were funnier.

you and me both!

Are you guys eating healthy and exercising? (I like my PA and want you guys to stick around.)

recently yes. In the past few months I've managed to lose about 12 pounds thanks to changing my eating habits and trying to be more active.

What would be your dream licensed comic project?

Edit: If you had to do an established property, gaming, comic, tabletop or otherwise.

Star wars I think.

What's Jerry/the PA office doing while you're doing the AMA? What did they think about you doing one?

he is texting his sister right now.

Did you ever get your Neo-Geo cabinet fixed?

yes! I had a beautiful 4 slot MVS cab for a number of years. It lived at my house and then at the office for a while. Eventually I sold it but it was awesome.

You said you were most proud of Lookouts. Why did you choose to license the comics to Cryptozoic?

time. I just don't have the time that a Lookouts comic book deserves. I wish I did.

Are your cartoons intended for readers to smile at or laugh at, because I haven't done the second one?

I hope it makes them laugh, if they don't laugh I hope it makes them angry and if it doesn't do that I hope it makes them diabetic.

Are you ordained if so would you ever marry someone at PAX? If yes would you do the ceremony for my fiance and I at PAX East? (Sorry for the re edit, on a phone it sucks)

Sorry I am not.

How do you find the time to play video games?

Well I'm very fortunate that I have a job that allows me time during the day to play games. I also have an incredible wife who loves games and so gaming at home is a big part of what we do as a family.

What'd you have for lunch?

Chinese food

Does it bother you when people criticize your "new art style"?

haha not really no. I understand that not everyone is going to like the changes I make as time goes on. I'm always trying to improve my stuff and that's going to turn some people off. Nothing I can do about that. I feel like I'm improving and I like where I'm at as an artist right now.

What is your favorite memory with your brother?

I did not get to see my brother much. he was not allowed to come by the house very often. I remember one year at Christmas he showed up and brought me a he-man action figure. That was incredibly special to me at the time. I remember not really understanding why I didn't get to see him as much as I wanted but to know that he was still thinking about me was cool.

Your character/alter ego in the comics started out not liking RPGs, and then falling in love with them, was this based on a real event?

yes I'd say that the lives of the characters tend to follow our real lives. When I'm hooked on a game so is gabe. When I am in love with a movie so is gabe. All that stuff is pulled from our real lives.

Do you like warm or cold showers?


Can you draw me a duck?

no not since the accident.

Are you still in awe that the strip took off like it did and that it's not only your full time job, but such a wildly successful enterprise?

I mean, fuck, if this sort of thing happened to me, I think I'd fucking pinch myself every morning for the rest of my life and pray not to wake up.

Good on you guys. Damn.

My 14 year old daughter (who's having a really rough time health-wise) is trying to start a web-comic. She's been grinding drawing skill (in the RPG sense, minds out of the gutter young men of reddit) for the past 3 years and is approaching scary-good. She's also an amazing writer with one self published novel on Kindle, so, like, she can formulate a plot.

Any advice? I know this is a super cliche question, so sorry about that, but seriously, kid has nearly died twice in the last 4 years and deserves success with this. What can she or I do to make it more likely?

focus on something she loves, pick an update schedule and stick to, don't give up.

What happened to the possibility of new kid movie?

This is out of our hands now. We sold the rights to Paramount and the ball is in their court now. From what I understand it is not uncommon for studious to buy stuff like this and then just sit on it.

Dear Mike

Why I am so bald?


I know this might be a little on the 'serious' side, but...

Several times in the PA show yourself and Tycho have talked about dealing with depression and the different approaches you have both taken in managing it. Do you have any words of advice for others in similar situations?

My advice is talk to a doctor. Get help. I know for a very long time I just assumed everyone felt the way I did. I didn't know there was another way to feel. How could I? Eventually I was convinced by a friend to talk to my doctor and I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety. They gave me Lexapro and IT CHANGED MY LIFE.

Now that you've had time to think about it: dickwolves. Whats your opinion on them?

still a funny strip. In fact when I made a list of my favorite comics from 2012 for the site a while back i put it in there.

How does it feel to know that all the industry dicks you sucked wont result in anyone respecting your shitty webcomic.

sucking industry dicks is its own reward!

Mike, Big fan.

Star Wars nerd to Star Wars nerd: How do you deal with the constant changes to "canon"? For instance, the prequels pretty much destroying Zahn's work (Lucas canon overwriting EU). I've tried to adopt a la carte method and just make up what I think is right. I'm sure you guys have had this discussion in regards to other "worlds" too.

I pick and choose what I like best and keep that as my own personal Star Wars cannon.

First off, you and everyone at PA keep up the good work!

Now to a question I have. I've seen several references on the Penny Arcade site to "New Art" in the way of video games. My question to you is what you find personally to be really artistic games. What are the games you find best exemplify a new kind of art?

Kingdom Hearts 2 ICO REZ Ni No Kuni Wind Waker FF 10

I know one of the guys from cyanide and happiness and he forever tarnished my love for your comics by telling me that you guys are dicks (he used that word but it is also the short version of what he said) in real life. (via meeting you at e3).

Seeing how this is a rare chance for me to ask you to defend your name, is this true (do you come off like that to a lot of people) or are you generally nice/chill person in real life?

I think I probably come off as a dick yeah. I'm not good at meeting or liking people. Jerry is the opposite though. He is incredibly friendly when you meet him and always very cool.

Favorite comic besides Penny Arcade?

the Trenches

My art teacher Mr Lenz told us about how you went to Mead! Love seeing people make it from Spokane

he was my neighbor! Small world:)

why does gabe have hair in the comic and none in real life?

you're thinking of the other guy.

Do you ever feel "stuck" or out of ideas when creating a strip? And if so, how do you overcome this block? As an aspiring comic-stician Id really value any input.

yes that happens all the time. We just push through. Sometimes that means we go out for a walk or get lunch. We also keep a list of ideas or funny things we've heard that we can reference when we need some help.

Your comic is really, really overrated. Love the good things you've done with your fame, but honestly, it's 'Garfield' for gamers.

Downvote me to hell, Reddit, but I had to say it.

From what I understand Jim Davis is rich as fuck thanks to Garfield.

Hi Gabe! I'm a huge fan since arround 2001, and there is one thing that I need to ask. Is L. H. Franzibald based on Tim Buckley? If so, what made you guys hate him so much?

yes it is!

His body of work.

I gave up reading online comics since the CAD miscarriage thing. I have seen Penny Arcade floating around, but never 'got in to it'. Can you suggest a series or set of strips to make me want to read your comic?


Who the fuck are you?

I'm Mike Krahulik I draw Penny Arcade.

Hey Mike!

Back at PAX Prime 2009 you, Jerry and I had a chance encounter in which you enjoyed my cologne. Just wanted to let you know it is because of that day that I still wear that specific type of cologne.

You guys rock. Never not be Penny Arcade.

EDIT: The cologne in question is Unforgivable by Sean John

Amazon Link

I wear it now too!

I wear it now too!

you smelled really fucking good man.

How did the popularity of your comics come about? Did you have to do a lot of web promotion on forums an junk or did people just find you and you became an overnight sensation? Also, how did you initially feel when you realized just how popular your comics have become?

We never promoted PA. It was all just word of mouth. Honestly back then we didn't know how to promote it.

At the end of a PATV episode, it shows you guys doing a talk at PAX. A man who had spent a lot of time on a submarine came up and gave Jerry a hug, and you said something like:

Yeah, I think that making people laugh is good enough for me. For a long time.

That was big for me. It put a lot of things into perspective.

So: Did you ever imagine that your art (or even your words) could have such a dramatic effect on your readers/fans?

Thanks for everything you guys do.

no I never could have imagined this. Not in a million years.

Tits or asses... (the most important question ever :3 )

option a

After so many years and so many readers, I'm sure that no matter what comic you put up, tens of thousands of people will say it's the greatest thing ever, and hundreds will say it sucks.

Is there some praise/criticism that manages to get through to you still? Do you have some select people you trust to tell you when you did a great job, or when you were a bit below-par?

When I can make Jerry laugh I feel like I did a good job. It still means a lot to me when my friends here in the office like a strip. Sometimes I'll be so proud of a comic I send it out to the office first and I love listening to them laugh as they all check it out.

Are you related to a girl who lives in mid-Michigan? I went to school with her and she kept saying you guys were related.

Edit: her name starts with an 'R' and she pays saxophone.

I don't think so.

Hi Mike, Any more Acquisitions Inc. Podcasts in the future?

That's up to Wizards of the Coast.

Back in 2010, you guys had a vote for a new comic and SAND ended up winning. http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/10/27

I know a LOT of creative works have come down since then: Paint the Line, Rainslick Precipice, PA Board Game, The Lookouts, Jim Darkmagic... Did this project just fall to the wayside?

I just posted some new Sand artwork last week actually! This comic will happen this year.

What do you like most about drawing your comic strips?

I love drawing goofy facial expressions and trying to match the right face to the dialog.

What's your favorite arcade?

the arcade in downtown Seaside in Oregon.

Young man entering the real world here. Could you explain the evolution of two dudes drawing a comic to a media empire (of sorts) ginormous charity and countrywide expos? Put another way, how the hell did you guys learn to business?

well when two people love each other very much....

What's the strangest fanart for PA that you've seen? (Inspired by the fact that I made a Cardboard Tube Hello Kitty for my mother a few years back.)

there's some pretty crazy shit on Tumblr. A lot of the Gabe and Tycho fucking stuff is really well drawn!

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

That's right, waxing it Lipton style.

We have a room from which you can watch Tycho burn.

How have you developed in your struggle to draw hands?

I feel like my hands are in a pretty good place right now.

Have you ever gotten a Dickerdoodles submission and gone "Okay, maybe that is just a bit too far." Actually, is that even possible?

man I wish.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Mike Krahulik conducted on Reddit on 2013-01-30. The Reddit AMA can be found here.